This is the first in a series about our Emerging Artists who will perform selections from three plays at Seattle Repertory Theatre, August 5-7 for the Emerging Artist Showcase.  LEARN MORE.

By Inda Craig-Galván
Emerging Artist Playwright | Black Super Hero Magic Mama

I came to playwriting late in life. After a career in acting (if my face seems familiar, it’s because you’ve undoubtedly seen me on one of 30+ national commercials), I wanted something more in my control. I’d been writing sketch comedy — a lot of political and social satire as I’d been trained to do at The Second City in Chicago — and I was loving it. Part of the appeal I found in sketch was that it didn’t require the time commitment nor attention span necessary for crafting plays or screenplays. Three to five pages and you’re out! Done. But, ultimately, I realized that I had more to say than could be handled within a sketch.

My kids were old enough that graduate school seemed like a viable option. I applied to graduate school… singular… one program. University of Southern California. And I was accepted into their Dramatic Writing Program. The program admits only three students each year, a fact that I was not aware of when I applied. That’s a good thing that I didn’t know, because I didn’t need one more excuse in my head to not do it. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

I wrote Black Super Hero Magic Mama during the Fall semester of my second year of this three-year program. Almost a year ago. There were several shootings that went unpunished at the time. The image of Tamir Rice, in particular, on that playground…wow. It was stuck in my head. My own son was around the same age then, and I couldn’t even imagine having to stand at a press conference podium and do what his mother was expected to do. I couldn’t. But, God forbid, if I were in that situation, that is exactly what would be required. It angered me, the depths of how unfair that expectation is of the mothers. And it’s always the mothers. It all rests on them. That’s crazy. It shouldn’t be her responsibility to calm the masses and forgive the cop and lead the prayer. To do all of it so publicly and so soon. So soon. It’s unfathomable.

And so I thought… what if? What if a mother refused? What if this woman went somewhere else instead. The concept of “somewhere else” is something that I deal with a lot in my writing. Whether it’s a destination in one’s mind or some different realm that actually exists but no one else knows about, there’s a place that helps us cope. A happy place, a secret place, whatever it’s called, it’s a coping mechanism that we see time and time again in fantasy stories. The only difference is that it’s usually some orphaned child (Harry Potter, Dorothy, etc.) who goes on an adventure that might not really be happening. What if it’s the mother? That’s how this play unfolded for me.

The play follows Sabrina Jackson, a widowed Black mother to a lovely, brilliant, 14-year-old son, Tramarion. When she loses her boy, Sabrina cannot cope with the loss.

Rather than herald the Black Lives Matter movement, Sabrina retreats inward. She refuses to be the media martyr that society has come to expect/demand of mothers in this type of horrible situation. Instead — whether by choice or default — Sabrina lives out a comic book super hero fantasy in her mind and chooses to stay there, fighting crime and dodging reality.

Join us for our Emerging Artist Showcase August 5-7 at Seattle Repertory Theatre. We will feature selections from three plays: The Owl Answers and A Movie Star Has To Star In Black And White by Adrienne Kennedy and Black Super Hero Magic Mama by Inda Craig-Galván. The show is free and open to the public. RSVP HERE.

Black Super Hero Magic Mama won the 2016 Jane Chambers Student Award for playwriting. It will also receive a staged reading in August at Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles, directed by Deena Selenow.